Striking Writers “Picket with the Stars”

(News Release from the Writers Guild of America)

Hundreds of Screen Actors Guild Members Join Picket Lines Outside Universal Studios

on Day Nine of WGA Strike

LOS ANGELES – On Tuesday, hundreds of film and television actors joined striking members of the Writers Guild of America on picket lines outside Universal Studios, giving a big boost to Day Nine of the WGA strike against the studios, networks, and conglomerates that dominate U.S. media.

“There isn’t an actor I talk to who hasn’t felt what the writers are going through,” said William Petersen, the star of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Petersen picketed along with Marg Helgenberger, Wallace Langham, and other members of the cast of CSI.

“The writers’ fight is our fight,” said Camryn Manheim, star of Ghost Whisperer. “They’re the ones who make us look good. Writers deserve to be compensated for the entertainment, the stories, the humanity and everything they put into the world. People are benefiting from the writers’ work.”

Contract talks affecting 10,500 writers broke off Nov. 4, when negotiators from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers walked away from the bargaining table. The WGA strike began Nov. 5.

Issues include residual payments for original and reused programming on the Internet, and jurisdiction over “reality” and animated TV programs. Before discussions broke off, the AMPTP proposed changes in the writers’ contract that would radically reduce residuals.

The sight of more than 2,500 members of the Writers and Screen Actors guilds marching together along Universal City’s Lankershim Blvd. underlined the support that other entertainment industry unions are showing the strike. WGA members and supporters also picketed Tuesday at locations across Los Angeles.

Jon Cryer, of Two and a Half Men, said, “Everyone knows the Internet is the future. If we don’t get a piece of that, we’re doomed.” Added Jason Alexander, “This is not about some big star’s salary. It’s about big company profits. It’s high time writers shared in a percentage of the profits.”

Among the many actors who showed their support were Katherine Heigl, T.R. Knight, Amy Brenneman, and other members of the casts of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, Brad Garrett and Kat Foster from Til Death, Ray Romano of Everyone Loves Raymond, and casts of Desperate Housewives, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Army Wives, Cold Case, The Big Bang Theory, Without A Trace, Numb3rs, Rules of Engagement, Jericho, Dexter, Mad Men, Women’s Murder Club, Las Vegas, and many other series.

Sarah Silverman told interviewers, “It’s so crazy ridiculous. All the writers want is a small percentage of the money the producers are making on things they’re writing. The producers will still be incredibly rich, even if they give the writers what they deserve.”

Matthew Perry chimed in: “We’re all supporting you guys. I’ll personally stand on this corner until everything works out.”

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) represents writers in the motion picture, broadcast, cable, and new media industries in both entertainment and news. For more information, please visit: http://www.wga.org/.


Anonymous said...

Finally some media coverage! I hope to God this strike ends soon, some of the best, most creative shows are on the line here, The Office. Ahh give the writers what they deserve!!

nick said...

The actors are out for themselves, they are "united" because it serves their cause. When the SAG contract expires next year the actors will ask for similar additions with regard to "new media". I hope cooler heads prevail before large amounts of people lose their jobs and the holiday season is ruined for the crew and their families... wait to late. Thanks WGA. Way to write a happy ending.

Outsider said...

I agree with Nick. This needs to get taken care of now. The fact that big names in acting showed up was a great thing, and I hope the writers continue to see that kind of support, but actors still get by fairly easily. I'm reading a minimum of 60 days of striking on other sites, which has to be a horrible thought for everyone really involved.

Anonymous said...

Here is what I love so much about this strike. The writers, who make very good money, are striking so they can receive even more. I get wanting to be paid for what you created but quite frankly you are paid quite well up front, something you demanded more of back in the "horrible" 88' deal you signed.

Do I think residuals should be paid out for internet and streaming, absolutely. My argument against all this is why shut down countless shows and cause 1000's of people to lose their jobs?

Matthew Perry can say all day how he will "stand on a corner personally until it is resolved" but thats because he is set for LIFE!!!! When you make a million, plus, an episode, you can afford to take a 9 month "break" and "fight the good fight".

Us individuals who truly do work paycheck to paycheck and have no union to represent us are the ones getting fired. I would like to see Matthew Perry or any writer for that matter swap rates with a set PA and then come back and talk about waiting things out.

The brutal truth is if you were in my shoes or those of my friends behind the scenes you would be changing your tune, and quickly. You talk about fighting for the little guy, when in reality it is the little guy you are crushing with your actions.

You as a group chanted that you wanted to make a deal last week at Fox, why not make good on that? Go back to the tables and work this out, and if that means a stoppage in the strike, so be it. It would show you truly are looking out for others rather than yourselves.

I will leave you with this quick fact: You all complain about the crappy deal you got in 88' but you fail to mention thats the deal you got from striking. The studios are in better shape this time around and I fear that if you try to bleed them out is you rather who will be hurt in the long run.

nick said...

I left something out. The writers deserve to be paid for their work and are, handsomely. The good ones,that is, I'm sure they crew members that have been put out of work would feel a lot more solidarity for the cause if the writers would refuse to accept their residual checks until the strike is over. What do you think?

Sean said...

nick, outsider, and anonymous are speaking bull. Simply put, the Alliance is seeking to undermine all guilds and unions in Hollywood. The fact that the WGA are the first up due to their contract expiring is beside the point. If IATSE was up for contract renewal, and the deal was bad, would they not strike (infact they have; on Broadway)?

This whole below and above the line warfare is being fomented mostly by navelgazers who don't understand that residuals, for some units of IATSE (notably the animation guild) DO pay their pension and health care plan. That if residuals are taken away from writers, actors, and directors, IATSE isn't going to get them to fund their plans either.

If people are going to wax poetic about their faux support for below the liners, get your facts right. And get it through your heads that if the WGA loses this battle, everyones going to be seeing much poorer Christmases for the next 20 years, as opposed to one.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'd like to correct Jason Alexander on one small point. This isn't about a "percentage of the profits." Or at least it shouldn't be, because as we all know, when it comes to "creatively" no writer can hold a candle to the AMPTPs accounting technique. The WGA should be going after a percentage of income from new media sources, DVD sales and rentals, etc. etc. etc.

It's a small but very important difference.

One Pissed Off Writer

Captain Obvious said...

to anonymous @ 9:18 pm:

Don't kid yourself. Not only are there plenty of writers that are in just as bad of a position as anyone else, but there are many other situations at play.

Take my own: Completely down for the count financially, hit an especially bad financial snag over the past several weeks as I was writing a screenplay and barely got my internet service restored, and am not a member of the WGA (yet) or as affluent as you might like to think; but I refuse to move the screenplay I finished mere days before the strike began because this cause is just, right, and deserving of my support.


I absolutely cannot stand people who say "I am down for the count financially...but I'm going to strike til' the end!" and sentiments like that. If you're hurting financially, you can't really say "I'm striking for however long this goes." If you say stuff like this, then you're not financially hurting, and you don't live paycheck to paycheck.
The fact of the matter is, we all hear about how this strike is HURTING the economy, and yes there are MANY people who will TRULY be hurt economically because of this strike, and it's an absolute shame that the WGA (stop saying the ball's in the AMPTP's court), AMPTP, THE FEDERAL MEDIATOR (whatever happened to him??), THE MAYOR, THE GOVERNOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES, cannot somehow figure this out.

Greg said...

Thank you Sean and Captain Obvious. I strongly suspect "anonymous" is a studio troll, but just in case others are reading this.

Nick--just out of curiosity--is there a reason you wrote "Thanks WGA" instead of "Thanks AMPTP & Nick Counter"? After all, the writers *dropped* ALL their other demands before negotiations were over; they're asking for a very small cut of revenue off of internet broadcasting--2.5%.

Anonymous, with the exception of PAs, the vast majority of *every* paid working person in the industry in Hollywood is in a union, and a huge majority of them support the strike, because they understand that the studios are taking a union-breaking action, and will go after other unions next if they succeed here.

Do you work in Hollywood? What is your job? Could you sign your posts with your full name and location, please? We know this is a high-profile blog and that the studios may be sending trolls here to post (it's a common management tactic to engage in misinformation during strikes.) Why be anonymous? it's not like you're going to be punished for expressing a dissenting opinion--Craig Mazin hasn't, and he's a hell of a lot more high profile than you.

And, oh, anonymous, if you *really* believe that writers should "absolutely" get a percentage of internet revenue, then you should support the strike--if the writers hadn't gone on strike, they *never would have had a chance to GET that revenue.* Remember, it was the *only* demand on the table on the last day of negotiations, and the studios FLAT-OUT refused. It's not the *writers* who are putting people out of work. The studios are responsible for that with their complete and total refusal to negotiate. Why are you blaming *only* the writers?

coolerhead said...

whether someone blames only the writers or the AMPTP, the fact of the matter is this: if you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem. If someone picks a fight with you, and you get into a fight - it doesn't matter who started it. The fact is, you got into a fight. So whether you like it or not, the WGA is part of this problem.

I'm a proud WGA member, who voted not to strike, but have been out picketing full shifts every day. People are talking about studio plants on these boards, but how effective are they really? And how do you know for sure? A lot of what can be deemed as studio plants to me read like level-headed reality checks. I'm not trying to argue with you. You shouldn't argue with others, and get caught up with the emotions behind peoples comments. Look what that's done to our leaders and the AMPTP.

All we can ask for at this time, and I think those that lost production jobs have every right to clamor for, is a quck resolution to this strike. Let's all hope that this ends soon.

Sean said...


I am not a WGA member (though I am a public service union member), but I know enough about labor relations and negotiating to determine when depriving ones boss of your labor is worth it because the employment situation that is being offered is simply untenable. Is it fair to my clients if I go on strike as a social worker? No. But neither is it fair to them for me to accept a doubled caseload, reduced budgets for my department, and onerous work-rules that dictate, down to the minute, how long I can talk to my client face to face (all of these are vari.

I imagine for most writers its the same. After all, you're not writing a book. You're writing a screenplay, something you want to see brought to life, to be enjoyed. No one in their right mind would take walking in a circle for that, nor seeing their co-workers get laid off. But the deal being offered, for most writers it seems, is not fair either, nor would it set a great precedent for other unions negotiations down the line.

So up the picket signs go, and the hope that it will force the hand of the studios. No one strikes to lose, and lets hope that they win big.

LK said...

a) that wasn't an article. that was a press release. they are specifically written as articles in order to make reporters work less, not that they are working at all on covering this. grr.
b) oh shush. (sorry, was that bitchy?) the idea, at least of this blog, as far as I can tell, is to disseminate information about the WGA's efforts and those of its strike captains to win one for their union by getting to the negotiating table. debating of the strike may not be the best activity for this part of the web.
c) i hate to sound like the mild pinko i am, but couldn't the production workers, the gaffers, etc. form unions? i know its so last century, but if they had a strike-clause (like the opposite of what SAG has), they could simply also declare themselves on strike in solidarity with the WGA, then use their strike fund to support people. (this only works in 20 years, when it becomes about some other great leap forward in technology). this is skilled labor. i am not suggesting gaffers should be asking for residuals or royalties. i'm just asking if it isn't possible to be unionized, make the priorities the same as most unions (decent hours, work safety, job security), but be able to support one another in times of crisis.
d) whoever is running this today, please put up links, both to the strike fund and to the solidarity fund (?), the one for those not in the WGA, but affected by the strike. who exactly will/does the money from the second fund go to?
e) more pictures!
f) seriously, it is not hillary's or obama's or rudy's job to figure out this strike. it is the job of the negotiating teams and the federal mediator. although i am so sure dennis kucinich would moderate this in a heartbeat if asked.

Anonymous said...

Wow..every time a crew member posts about what about us or asked anything? A WGA person screams we are trolls and AMPTP plants.
That is it, you have lost this production coordinator..I know how much the 13 writers on my 1 hour drama make.
Shame on you!
13 writers for 22 epsiodes....really!
Way to divide ..
Out of the 13, 3 break story and 2 write and get script credit but all make over 6 figures.
Yea poor writers.
Kiss my outta work ass!
I am going to my production contacts tonight and send some of the bs you have been writing here to my 112 out of work crew members and ask them to share it with their out of work friends.
You get free coffee and we stay on line at unemployment. You grin in the face of millionaires and we try to not feel bad about being considered collateral damage in a war that has nothing to do with us. Yes you contribute to pension but so do we...please that is a pisspoor excuse to have a strike.
At least the AMPTP is not pretending they care about us. You all disgust me.
Thanks for being typical above the line.

Anonymous said...

In response to your asking my name and location Greg let me just say I would love to give it but I would rather not be blacklisted. See again I am just a set PA and on the totem pole of this business I am clearly at the bottom. That being said its very simple for any hyphenate, writer, or producer reading this to take down my name and blacklist me. I would like to think that wouldn't happen but look at the WGA's own site asking members to turn in other members if they "suspect" them of breaking strike rules.

In regard to the vast majority of behind the scenes workers being in a union I will not argue that fact with you. But I will say this, those willing not to cross a picket line are probably finacialy well off. Maybe they are single or their spouse has a good job, but show me a grip with 2 kids that's barely getting by and I will offer you an apology.

And correct me if I am wrong here Greg but when the WGAE walked out of the meeting Sunday there was an offer on the table for internet, in all forms. Sure it may not have been exactly what they wanted but it was still a deal. Rather than take into consideration just what making a deal would mean to everyone involved, (writers, producers, grips, elec., etc.) they decided it was a stronger message to walk away and start striking (which they didn't start picketting till 9a so there was still plenty of time to talk). By that course of action the only message sent was a big slap in the face to production crews around the country.

Also Greg, while I don't even know why I am even bothering to continue this debate with you, I stand by what I said before about thinking the writers should get a cut of the internet, I just think the way they are going about it is wrong. Don't sit and tell me its the only choice the WGA had, I can tell you countless ones that don't involve the crappy situation we are in now.

Oh and I almost forgot. To Sean, the only people in IATSE receiving residuals are writers, they just happen to be writting for animation, which the WGA won't represent. If I am wrong on that please show me the information because I would love to see it. And one last thing, realize IATSE covers multiple professions (camera, grip, elec. , etc.) so to say a blanketed statment like "residuals, for some units of IATSE (notably the animation guild) DO pay their pension and health care plan" leads an uninformed reader to believe that grips (or _____) are pulling in residuals.

I'll leave you with one more fun thought, using Paul Haggis as one of many examples. The day before the strike Paul turned in his latest draft of the new James Bond movie. By doing so I am sure he made quite a nice paycheck for submitting a draft (common practice when a rewrite comes in), I would even venture it was high 6 figures of a check. Then what does Paul do, he turns right around and goes to picket outside Sony, the studio he just handed the script to. If he, or any other writer, really wanted to stick it to the studios, why did they supply them with the ammunition they needed to survive the strike?

Sean said...

If I am wrong on that please show me the information

You are wrong. From the mouth of an IATSE Local head, " Last year, IA residuals totaled $347 million. The money was used to bolster the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan, which, at present, is the best union health plan in the movie industry. (In years where there have been surpluses, the money not used for the health plan has gone into active participants' Individual Account Plans -- part of the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan."

So yes, all people who are covered under a contract that includes the Healthcare plan and the Pension Plan recieve residuals, indirectly. You can argue all you want about saying its not "the same", but as TAG President Hulett states, its simply impossible to break up residuals for 40,000 crew members, and it would be so small, that its better off using them to shore up the larger plans.

And no, animation writers can be WGA or TAG. There's no clear jurisdiction. Both WGA and 839 rep writers in animation (I should know; Class of 3000 has writing from Verrone, the head of the Guild) depending on "how" they write (board artists are repped by 839...script writers are represented by 839).

Most of these things can easily be learned by scanning the web for contracts and the like. Something I recommend, you as a WGA member evidently, should do.

Captain Obvious said...

production worker @ 10:43 pm said:

"I absolutely cannot stand people who say "I am down for the count financially...but I'm going to strike til' the end!" and sentiments like that. If you're hurting financially, you can't really say "I'm striking for however long this goes." If you say stuff like this, then you're not financially hurting, and you don't live paycheck to paycheck."

As I said in my comment: I'm not a guild member and was a casual writer up until a couple months ago when I started working on a screenplay I'd been thinking about for almost a decade. That's the only reason I'm here. I'm not "on strike" but at the same time I am. I refuse to try and sell the script I finished two and a half weeks ago until this strike is resolved. Yes, I'm in horrible financial condition, but this isn't about me; this is about the future for all writers BIG AND SMALL.

Anonymous said...

Sean thank you for the IATSE info. What I find amazing from it though is that the residual money coming in funds their health care and pensions. I only find this amazing because you use those residuals as an even playing field to what the WGA provides.

The residuals a writer receive aren't the sole funder of health care and pension, as is the case you have shown with IATSE. Instead it is just "extra" money after the fact that the writers are receiving. If the writers were outside picketing for health care and pension, I might actually honk for them, but they are out there fighting to keep a second home or to make sure they can keep their current million plus one.

I won't sit here an say that all writers are rich but I will use the clear fact that if a DVD sells a million copies, under the current system the writer would get an additional 60,000+ in residuals. In other words for doing no additional work they will be paid 3 years worth of my salary. Again it's no wonder so many writers can actually survive a strike that last a few months.

Captain Obvious said...

to anonymous @ 9:03 am:

Not honking is like supporting the fat cats with 10 homes and absolutely no qualms if they can make a ton of money on the internet and give the people that created the content nil.

Sean said...

The residuals a writer receive aren't the sole funder of health care and pension,

Neither are the residuals the sole funder of the Health and Pension Plan. If you had actually clicked the link, you would have found out that the residuals are to "shore up" the funds, ie to make up any shortfall from employer contributions in a year where production isn't so hot (ie a year where demands on the plan are more than whats coming in from hours worked). Some airline unions have used similar means to shore up pension funding (notably Continental, whom sold stock and had a deal to channel a certain amount of profits into the pension plan above and beyond what was legally required...again something the union negotiated).

that if a DVD sells a million copies,

That's presuming. Most DVD's will never sell that well, and for TV series, you have to remember an individual episode writer (and actor and director) only get an equally smaller percentage of that DVD pie. People will always whip out the Matrix's and The Lord of the Rings to show how much you could make, but very few people will ever enjoy those pay days. For most, writing regularly on a average ratings, average selling TV show is fairly rare.

corinne said...

a response to "anonymous" who said:

"The writers, who make very good money, are striking so they can receive even more. I get wanting to be paid for what you created but quite frankly you are paid quite well up front, something you demanded more of back in the "horrible" 88' deal you signed."

i work with these dozens of these writers and am friends with many more. a very small percentage make "very good money." the rest (read: eighty percent of the WGA membership) live paycheck to paycheck and can barely make the $30,000 annual amount to secure health and pension benefits.

they aren't just greedy millionaires striking for themselves. this will come up again in 6 months with the DGA, SAG, and will eventually trickle down to the crew and the 1000s of people who of lost their jobs. (by the way, i'm one of those thousands, too.)

and you're right. they are striking to receive more money...for internet & new media. more than zero would be good.

do yourself a favor any check out "why we fight" on you tube. it's less than four minutes they use small words, so you'll probably be able to follow.

Anonymous said...

I hope their strike goes on forever.
Good riddance to a cesspool of greedy unemployable, uncreative, untalented whiners. Perhaps this fiasco might force them to find real work, something they've obviously never experienced. No big loss. I guess the Letterman audience of seals (clap at anything he says) might not care.